How did you get into farming? Alan’s grandparents, Robert and Anna, moved to the farm in 1942 and purchased the operation a few years later. It was passed on to the next generation, Paul and Matilda Flansburgh, in 1965. Alan and Kathy took over when they purchased the farm in 1998. Their five sons, Derek, Dustin, Dylan, Devin and Dalton, all grew up helping on the farm and are involved today. Devin is on the farm full time and oversees the two Lely A4 robotic milking systems that were installed September 2022.
What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? Alan: It’s always a concern whether milk price will cover the cost of production. We should be OK now that we have been able to purchase some quota from a neighbor who no longer milks cows.
What is a recent change you made on your farm and the reason for it? Devin: We added robots last year. My parents were going to quit milking in two years because they had been milking since 1998 and Dad’s shoulder was getting worn out. I wanted to keep going and was interested in the robots, so we went that route to keep milking.
Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. Kathy: Between our five boys, we have everything covered. Devin does a lot of vet work like IVs, cleaning cows and all the A.I. Dustin is a welder, Dylan is mechanically inclined, Derek does all the combining and is also a computer tech and helps with the robots, and Dalton was always helpful mixing feed. Devin is the only one on the farm full time, but the others are willing to help when they can.
What is the best decision you have made on your farm? Alan: To be progressive. My grandpa started out milking cows by hand in the 1940s. Eventually they upgraded to can milk and then a pipeline. When Kathy and I took over in 1998, we installed a parlor and thought that was the best decision ever. And now there are robots milking the cows. My dad passed away in January, and he saw all those changes in his lifetime. Additionally, we are using a total mixed ration and have added a combine to stay efficient in those areas as well.
What are three things on the farm that you cannot live without? The skid loader because it cleans the freestall barn twice a day, unloads feed from delivery trucks and basically does some of everything on the farm. The mixer because we have to feed the cows efficiently, and the robots because the parlor is not useable anymore.
What strategies do you use to withstand the volatile milk prices? Kathy: We diversify between a lot of things to compensate for each other. We raise steers and do custom combining. For 23 years, I worked off the farm.
How do you maintain family relationships while also working together? Kathy: We just work together easily because everyone wants what is best for the whole farm. The entire family works together to make the farm business a success.
What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? Devin: Being able to do different things all the time and working with the cows. Kathy: I am thankful to have raised my kids on the farm and now have our grandson here as well.
What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Kathy: It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. Devin: Just take it day by day.
What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? Devin: For the next year, we plan to just perfect the process with the new robots. Alan: In the next five years, we will probably turn it over to the kids.
How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? Kathy: I enjoy fishing whenever I can. We take our boat on the Wisconsin River which is right next to our property. Devin: I enjoy spending time with my family. Alan: I like hunting and fishing. I went fishing in Canada this year, and it was great.
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